Honda Celebrates Discovery, Restoration of Its First Car Destined for America – Car and Driver (blog)

Honda N600 Serial 001

You can’t talk concerning the birth of Honda as a global automotive juggernaut free of talking concerning motorcycles. And in the 1970s, once the Honda Civic—also on the West Coast—was somewhat of a curio, Honda’s CB750 was fully accepted as a finish and legitimate machine. While Honda’s Super Cub, backed by the storied, “You fulfill the nicest individuals on a Honda” ad campaign, seemed almost an over night victory in the United States, the automotive market was a tougher nut to crack. Crack it, however, Honda did. And now American Honda is celebrating by chronicling the restoration of the vehicle that drove the very first tiny wedge in to the market, a diminutive N600 bearing serial number 001.

In 1967, Honda took 50 of its N360 kei cars and fitted them along with a bigger 599-cc engine, along with the suggestion that power-mad Westerners may cotton to the frugal little beasts, if just they readily available a bit much more oomph. The 50 cars were shipped stateside and steered about as evaluation mules. Over the years, Tim Mings [pictured below] has actually located themselves in possession of 3 of the very first 50, including the very first one built.

Honda N600 Serial 001

Among tiny-Japanese-vehicle dorks, Mings is a little a legend. He’s invested many of his life about the cars, dating spine to his uncle’s buy of the family’s very first 600 in 1970, the very first year the N600 was really sold in the continental U.S. The most effective part, as Mings notes in the video below, is that he had no suggestion he also owned the very first car. It wasn’t until he wiped away substantial grime, muck, and possum dung from the machine that he checked out the serial number.

A couple of years later, a rep from Honda’s ad agency, RPA, stopped by. In passing, Mings pointed at the #1 vehicle and casually stated exactly what it was. In the late 1960s, Honda was not a business burdened by nostalgia. The very first vehicle built was the very first vehicle built, and it was sent out in to the globe to do its duty. Regardless, the ad guys straightaway called American Honda, that readily available suggestions along with the restoration.

When mainland-U.S. sales began in earnest 3 years after the evaluation cars were built, the cars were sold through motorcycle dealerships. And once motorcycle shops who’d passed on the 600s were suddenly eager to sell the Civic, they were told no. The little cars fell in to a no-mans land, where brand-new dealers weren’t needed to service them, nor were motorcycle shops who’d decided not to pursue selling cars. Beloved by their owners, sufficient 600s were parked along with intent to restore that Mings has actually been able to make a full-time company from their resuscitation and care. In the case of N600 #1, the vehicle was felled by a catastrophic valvetrain failure at 22,000 miles, which suggests that it was parked early in its life. As a result, the physique is in terrific shape, along with just two minor rust spots merely here the A-pillars.



The engine, being a improvement unit, uses a various top-end gasket compared to the production motors, so Mings had brand-new ones earned up. In the end, #1 will certainly observe a finish restoration and display by Honda.

Historical preservation is a combination of luck, expertise, and dedication, and the resurrection of the very first Honda vehicle built specifically for American shores came concerning at the confluence of all of 3 streams. If Mings hadn’t been such a fiend for the little cars, dedicated sufficient to create an entire occupation about them, the vehicle might never ever have actually been found, a lot much less restored. Thankfully, that’s a future we necessity not ponder any kind of longer.

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